Gay politicians are nothing new. Gay Republican politicos? Well, they’re a little more rare. No surprise, then, that Georgia’s Brian Bates deserves a little attention. Though he lost a previous bid for Doraville’s City Council, the 36-year old politico won this go-round by a tidy 58%.
The landslide, some say, represents a real watershed for southern politics:
Georgia Equality, the state’s largest organization supporting gay rights, says he’s the first openly gay Republican to win a race in the Deep South.
“When you are talking about local elections, it’s about finding the most qualified candidate,” said Kyle Bailey, political director for Georgia Equality. “This is a sign of progress of the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] community showing that we are your neighbors.
“Number one, Bates is representing the people of Doraville. But he also provides an important voice to the Republican Party and he could help the Republican Party in Georgia to move to a place where it’s welcoming to LGBT.”
What a wonderful world that would be…
For his part, Bates disregards the gay debate.
I am gay and there’s no reason to hide it. I made the conscious decision to be open and honest about my orientation. It really didn’t come up with my conversations with voters and for the most part, I don’t think they care. It was not a campaign issue. There is not a gay agenda.
Not only does Bates’ win give gays a leg up, it disproves any lingering doubts about Georgia being a backward state full of slack-jawed yokels.